The following is an unedited transcript of an interview between ABC News' Terry Moran and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Tuesday, after Obama's speech addressing the issue of race and his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in Philadelphia.
TERRY MORAN: So what was your goal with this speech?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: You know, what I wanted to do was provide context for not just the controversy that's swirled around my former pastor over the last couple of days, but for a shift in tone that we've been seeing in the campaign, both in the coverage and the comments of both my supporters, Sen. Clinton's.
You could see race bubbling up in a way that was distracting from the issues that I think are so important to America right now. So what I wanted to do was to, rather than try to tamp it down, lift it up and see if maybe that would help clarify where we are as a nation right now on the issues.
MORAN: Given your candidacy, race was bound to bubble up in this campaign at some point. So was this a speech that you always planned to give or knew you had to?
OBAMA: I expected that at some stage we'd have to give it. Now, I'm not sure that we expected that it would come up in the way that it did. But it was unrealistic to anticipate that, during the course of this campaign, if not now then certainly in the general election, that this was not going to be an issue that had to be addressed.
This is a big leap for the country. Even me being the nominee is a big leap and then, obviously, actually being the president is a big leap. And, you know, what I want to do is to make sure that we understand that my campaign is not premised on that, it's not premised on making history, but that, whoever is president, this is always going to be an ongoing issue that we have to struggle with and that, perhaps, I can lend some special insight into it.
But it's nothing that's going to be unique to my presidency. It's been something that presidents throughout our history have or have not dealt with, but it's always been there.
MORAN: Now, things are changing in this campaign. Race is emerging as an issue. In the Mississippi primary, you won 92 percent of the black vote, just 26 percent of the white vote. Given what's happening, do you feel this is a make-or-break moment for your candidacy?
OBAMA: You know, I don't think it's a make-or-break moment. I mean, if you just look at the mathematics and the popular vote of the campaign, we're in a good place.
But one of the things that I've always believed is that this campaign couldn't just be about me, my ambitions, winning a nomination, that the process itself had to reflect the changes I say I'm going to bring about when I'm president.
And I do think this was a moment in the campaign where maybe I rediscovered a core truthfulness to the campaign that sometimes you lose during the course of campaigning. There were times before Texas and Ohio where you're there, and there are these big rallies, and people are yelling and screaming, and having a great time, and you are just -- you're giving your stump, and you've been giving it now for three months, and it becomes a performance, as opposed to really tapping into some of these essential challenges that the country faces in a meaningful and serious way.